This morning I saw something by a friend who expressed her feelings about today, and I felt for her. There were many years that I felt the same, though it was not as intense. During those years, I had never had a relationship, and so my sadness was that I could not connect with people. At that time too, I have grown up with what I see now as cultural distortions, and witnessed as year after year, the "hype" surrounding love, romance, sex built up. Part of that hype also included pornography, which would give a vague implication of what intimacy might be in very scant bits and pieces, even more scant than your average can of totally processed soups that promote big pieces or X amount of some ingredient, mostly meat. So, this hype, along with not being able to connect with people framed the sadness and loneliness I felt around Valentine's day - in my perception, love was scarce. I wonder how different things would turn out to be if I knew back then, what I know now... After a special encounter with a very special woman nearly three years ago; an intense relationship that lasted a short time; an interesting journey in a dating skills group that resulted in a series of self discoveries; and a couple of brief encounters; I have learned that all that stuff I grew up with was indeed hype, distortion, and a lot of my own doing because I bought into those things; and that love is sorely overrated in many ways; and also very underrated in other ways that I have found to be far more important. I am betting that that said friend is feeling the way she feels because she has experienced love in those important ways before, or at least some aspect of true intimacy and connection; and is missing it on this day. If that is true, man, that must really hurt, and it is intense enough that ANY way to cope with it would be preferrable to suffering that hurt. What have I found? Love is truly abundant and surrounds us in many ways, contrary to what people, mainstream culture, and society would have us believe. Love exists in friendships, with animals, with the everyday beauty of life, and within each of us. I found that WE are the only ones capable of blocking it off, restricting it, and otherwise making love scarce. I found that all the stuff I grew up with was indeed hugely overrated - the vague innuendos of how intimacy is supposed to work; the sensations that supposedly brings out certain noises and certain tones from people; and the quality and nature of "happily ever after" were all illusions, lies, fantasies that only caused suffering of separation; and divisions between people. I also found that at the same time, love was actually much richer, and more abundant in other ways. I found that what I really want is intimacy in connecting with others, a kind of intimacy that one can experience in a single but not ultra short kiss on the lips. The hundreds of points of connection between two people that is so vast that there is plenty of room and time to explore. An intimacy where one discovers mirrors of themselves in each other and are able to unconditionally accept and love and grow from, no matter how long, or how short that connection exists and feel that one has truly benefitted from. I've experienced the above and I am Grateful for those experiences because I no longer suffer the way I did back then when Valentine's day rolls around. Instead, I have a barometer of where I am at whenever I think about this desire for intimacy; and the realization that Valentine's Day need not to be a vehicle to further separate, divide, and isolate people because of a prevalent narrative that surrounds it. Really, how much do you want to bet that so many women out there have turned themselves away from romantic love because of the legions of men who, in seeking a certain brand of love, bombard them with messages, requests, and other social interactions that are heavily dripping with this desire and intent that none of them can ever hope to fulfill or enjoy? Really, how much do you want to bet that as a result of these interactions with women, those very same men only have a moe intensifying experience in their desires, hunger, and increased hype of whatever they are looking for, which only worsens the underlying symptoms and root causes in the first place, which only results in more separation between people and between themselves. What a vicious cycle, really! I still quickly look away, sometimes walk away and do something else, or talk about something else whenever I witness others engaged in various acts of connection or intimacy; but this is a huge improvement over where I was before. I also no longer use various coping skills when Valentine's Day rolls around, for which I am glad - my separation from others is less, at least. So, the quest to increase what little self love I have continues, and I know that the only place and person I can do this with, is myself. How I feel about witnessing others, and how I feel about Valentine's Day is my own doing as my own choice, which means that in the future, there is a real possibility that I will join the legions of people that celebrate their love for each other EVERYDAY. Like other holidays, it is a reminder of what we could do on an everyday basis, and even at every moment: to cherish each other, to cherish the love we have for one another, and that the most important thing we have that makes every story, every circumstances, every travesty we witness in this existence rather irrelevant. Happy Valentine's Day, Everyone. No matter where you are at today, physically, spiritually, emotionally, or as a person - I love you all.
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